Biorefining of sugar beet for food, feed and biochemical applications

Problem statement

The traditional beet industry faces high energy and operating costs (OPEX), especially at the process stage related to the concentration of beet sugar syrup.

Executive summary

The technology of small-scale biorefining of beet sugar and its by-products provides an innovative and energy-efficient solution through a method based on the solubility of sugar and which, through a decentralised approach, also proposes to reduce transport costs.

Technology description

By adding an anti-solvent, the solubility of beet sugar in water is reduced, allowing beet crystallization to occur even in high concentrations of water, thus replacing three steps or stages of processing in large-scale refinings. Since the viscosity of the mixture is much lower than a sugar/water mixture, the sugar crystals can be collected without the need for centrifugation (a very energy-intensive process) and the anti-solvent is recovered and recirculated in a closed-loop system. In this way, a reduction of approximately 50% of the energy requirements of the process is achieved. The recovered sugar can be sold in the local food market (thus displacing imports), as well as used for fermentation processes, including "chemical building blocks" through a decentralization strategy. Besides, beet wastes contain a low volume of amino acids of high added value, while the pulp of beet pressing is of high value as animal feed.

Market deployment considerations


Environmental considerations


Technology feedstock

sugar beet

Type of process

extraction concentration purification

Technology output

purified effluent



Technology Readiness Level







Research and Technological Center

Technology owner/developer

Institute of Technology Tralee
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